Potsdam 2017

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http://OFF.NETWORK Content Hackathon

What is it? Four full days of hacking Aug 14, 15, 16, 17 in Potsdam, NY, right after Wikipedia's annual conference in nearby Montreal (Wikimania 2017) towards the "offlining" aims outlined below! We are graciously being hosted by the State University of New York at Potsdam (SUNY Potsdam). This will be similar to Kiwix's Wikimania 2016 Hackathon in Esino Lario, Italy and the Spring 2017 Hackathon in Lyon, France but with more "meducational" packagers/implementers represented (Internet-in-a-Box, diverse medical/health publishers, in addition to Wikipedia technical architects etc!)

KEYWORDS: alternative publishing, offline cloud, developing world education, medical health informatics, web scraping, Sneakernet, mesh networking, peer-to-peer file sharing, peer production, mass collaboration, Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap, ZIM files, zines, Samizdat, community publishing, library rights, creative commons, copyright, copyleft, open access, free press, freedom of speech, FOIA, CDN, CMS, DRM, OER, open educational resources, intellectual property, fair use, hacktivism, underground press, citizen journalism, civic resilience, grassroots democracy.

We welcome backend engineers as well as UX designers, content matter experts as well as experienced open access publishers. We just ask that everyone spend all 5 nights in Potsdam, NY, immediately following Wikimania 2017 in Montreal (the prior week, with DebConf17 also in Montreal then!) so that each and all of our 4 hack days and evening hospitality plans are relaxed & productive! In short: arrive in Potsdam, NY late Sunday Aug 13, and leave Potsdam, NY Friday Aug 18 (2+ hour drive to Montreal's airport).

Your departing flight should leave Friday afternoon or evening (Aug 18) from Montreal's airport (YUL). Flights departing morning will generally NOT be possible, given vans/vehicles take 2+ hours to drive from Potsdam to Montreal's airport, with delays being common while entering Canada by road!

Please contact holt @ laptop.org immediately if you are considering contributing & partaking, joining the Kiwix and Internet-in-a-Box team during these 4 intense and productive days/nights!


Most all of us will drive the ~2.5 hours from Montreal, Quebec, Canada to Potsdam, NY immediately after dinner on Sunday Aug 13, 2017, the moment Wikimania ends:

ARRIVAL: SOME WILL NEED TO TAKE THE VIARAIL.CA TRAIN FROM MONTREAL TO CORNWALL, ONTARIO ON SUNDAY AUG 13. The 3:45PM train (arriving Cornwall 4:57PM) costs C$29 if booked well in advance. The 6:40PM train (arriving Cornwall 7:53PM) costs C$24 if booked well in advance. Personal cars will be arranged to drive people the final hour from Cornwall, ON into the USA, and onto Potsdam, NY.

Others will go by van or car from Montreal early evening Sunday Aug 13, 2017. Montreal airport (YUL) pickups might also be possible, as it's along the route to Potsdam, NY.


ARRIVAL ALTERNATIVES: Fly to Ottawa, Canada (YOW) and rent a car for the 1h40m drive to Potsdam, NY (verify that the car's legal/insured in the US!) Or if the border is too much hassle, fly to Syracuse, NY (SYR) and rent a car for the 2h30m drive to Potsdam, NY.

DEPARTURE: Vehicle(s) will arrive Montreal's airport (YUL) mid/late-morning Friday Aug 18, 2017. Airport's full name is "Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport".

DEPARTURE ALTERNATIVE: Some folks will take the 1:25PM Amtrak train from Plattsburgh, NY, which arrives ~8:50pm in New York City ($65-77) that evening of Friday Aug 18, 2017. Contact us immediately if you're considering this, as there are NO viable public transit options over the 1h45m rural route from Potsdam to Plattsburgh, but some kind of joint taxi ($140 for Potsdam->Plattsburgh) may be possible among those who contribute to our very generous hosts! Pricier Alternatives: Saranac Lake, Ogdensburg and Massena each small airports within about an hour of Potsdam, each with a few commercial flights on very small planes.

WARNING: There is NO public transportation between Montreal and Potsdam, so you will likely need to rent a car at great expense over 5 days if you do not register early! Hence direct transportation has been arranged to and from Montreal (YUL) for those who register early. So far we have vehicles and drivers arranged for about 12 people, making this ~2.5 hour road trip and border crossing between Montreal and Potsdam very easy, but beware these vehicles WILL fill up :) Vans: 7-seater [Walker family], 10-seater [friend's family] and 12-seater [university] vans MIGHT be available, if attendees register several months in advance!

Please remember that a passport and US visa and Canadian visa are likely all required at the Canada/USA land crossing, particularly those ineligible for the US Visa Waiver Program. To be safe, we will arrange formal letters of invitation to all non-US citizens, from SUNY Potsdam (University) to avoid possible border crossing nightmares. Well in advance: Martin Walker may need your passport number, its expiry date and your date-of-birth here — so please have these handy, given that border protocols have changed dramatically in 2017.

Facilities & Accommodations

SUNY Potsdam (State University of New York) conference facility, nearby riverside pub/restaurant, and backyard BBQ/food!

Wi-Fi and hopefully also wireline Ethernet will be provided, so don't let our http://OFF.NETWORK Content Hackathon name scare you too much (though offline dogfooding of all our community products IS encouraged!)

Contact Adam (holt @ laptop.org) or Martin Walker (walkerma @ potsdam.edu) to arrange hotel options or university dorms. There are excellent & affordable university dorms possible (in limited numbers, over most nights!) for those who RSVP early in June. The prices will be $25/person/night if you share a 2-person room, or $40/night for a 1-person room. These have the advantage of being a five minute walk from the hackathon location in Raymond Hall. re Contact us *immediately* if you want us to reserve you a room!

Martin recommends the following options for hotels, which should be booked through Martin if you wish to receive the college's reduced room rate. He will arrange a car ride to campus for you if necessary, but obviously the further hotels would work better if you have your own car. There are occasional buses, also, but these may entail walking 1 km from downtown.

  • Clarkson Inn - a Victorian-style hotel near the river and downtown, only 1 km from the campus, this is the best hotel option if you plan to walk in each day.
  • Northern Family Motel - a cheaper option, though it's 4 km from the campus.
  • Scottish Inns - another cheaper option about 4 km from campus.
  • Hampton Inn - more expensive than the above, but can work out cheap if 3-4 people share a room; it's close to shops and my house, and it's about 3 km from campus.
  • 1844 House - a fine restaurant with a small hotel attached, about 9 km from campus.

There are a few other small motels, etc. - by all means check with Martin if you find an alternative place you'd like to book.

Also feel free to post to the Talk Page.


Wikipedia & Wikimedia Foundation
  • Professor Martin Walker, leader of the original Wikipedia 1.0 offlining. We produced selections of Wikipedia content in the past such as Version 0.8, but this required expert manual work to prepare it for Kiwix use - and we can no longer do this. I'd like us to have tools to generate easily Kiwix releases of article selections, ideally including landing page, manual changes, revID control, indexes, etc.
  • Subramanya Sastry (Subbu) who manages the Parsing team; C. Scott Ananian who is also on the parsing team might participate remotely for some of the days.
  • Anybody from Anne Gomez' New Readers team !
  • Stephen Niedzielski or anyone he recommends from Wikimedia's Mobile App Team?
  • SJ Klein? former Community Trustee, who works with http://DP.LA (Digital Public Library of America)
  • <WMF tools guy / Wiki Data person from India?>
  • Samuel Alce? (Haiti)
  • Joel Steres? pioneer in offlining of OSM subsetting & searching (USA)
Education / Internet-in-a-Box (formerly One Laptop Per Child's School Server Community Edition)
  • Adam Holt, Community Catalyst (Haiti)
  • Tim Moody, Content Engineering (Lebanon)
  • George Hunt, Hardware/OS Integration (USA)
  • Anish Mangal? Field implementation engineering (India)
  • Mark Roden? Wikipedia subsetting (CA & CA)
  • Reno McKenzie, UX engineering (USA)
  • Josh Dennis, Raspberry Pi packaging (Myanmar)
  • César Octavio López Natarén, UX engineering (Chiapas, Mexico)
  • Nick Doiron? Front-end engineer (Mongolia)
  • David Dutkovsky? (Czech Republic)
  • Kiky Wang? (Taiwan)
  • Carolina Brum? Field engineer (Brazil)
  • Avni Khatri? Kids on Computers, President (Mexico)
  • Douglas Scott? strongly recommends these 3, working on offline education/Wikipedia:
    • Michael Graaf (South Africa) - deploys WikiFundi in South African schools, attending Wikimania too. Is part of a student team launching iNethi ("Net" in IsiXhosa) - a TV whitespace mesh cloudlet including the relevant schools, which does have a gateway but wants to host as much as possible (including social media - Diaspora, RocketChat) locally, to reduce data costs and latency, as well as to preserve a sense of ownership.
    • Andy Rabagliati? (South Africa)
    • Ian Gilfillan? (South Africa)
  • Paul LaGrange? (global PC refurbishing)
  • Denny Baumann? (Haiti)
  • Florence Devouard, (talk page) coordinates WikiFundi for Africa especially (France)
  • Gabriel Thullen (GastelEtzwane), Documentation! (CH)
KA Lite / Kolibri / Learning Equality

<email holt @ laptop.org if you'd like to join, Thanks!>

"Secrets of Open Source" Brown Bag Lunches

Lunchtime skillsharing presentations from premier Offlining Experts (that might be you!) will occur every day at 12 Noon (til about 12:30PM) including a "free" brown-bag lunch for those who participate — with a different infratech (or implementation/UX) theme every day. These should be live-streamed if all goes well! And will definitely undergo post-production and professional republication to YouTube and/or https://commons.wikimedia.org etc — within days if not hours after they occur.

Our 4 TENTATIVE Themes:

  • MONDAY: Scrapers & Boxers - Starting with Kiwix & mwoffliner Directions
  • TUESDAY: Community Tools - Docker/Containerization & GitHub/CI (Continuous Integration)
 12:00-12:15 Ivan Savov - exact topic?
 12:15-12:30 Mark Roden - exact topic?
  • WEDNESDAY: Tales from the Trenches - Internet-in-a-Box, Meducation, OpenStreetMap
  • THURSDAY: Napster of Alexandria - KA Lite/Kolibri in-field curation, NASA's Offline Editing on the Intl Space Station, Kids on Computers AND Others!

Q&A can continue after 12:30PM (or whatever chosen time) if necessary, but please note that the livestream and video cameras will be cut then, so that all who want to enjoy late summer in Upstate New York can in fact do so — e.g. walking along (or even swimming in) the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raquette_River etc — prior to diving back in for another afternoon of productive hacking!


Offliners R Us, bringing digital sanity (quality content, open infrastructure) to offline populations everywherever we can!

Please join our 11AM NYC Time voice calls on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month (contact: holt @ laptop.org) if you can help refine this arc of achievable opportunities in 2017, possibly including:

  • kiwix-serve on ARM? done
  • mwoffliner: specific enhancements? Include CScott's node-libzim for speed etc?
  • searching across ZIMs? ("imminent: approx April 2017")
  • Unified Catalog ("imminent: incl OPDS integration approx May 2017") for IdeasCube catalog of content (even if their catalog also indexes other things)
    • basis for Internet-in-a-Box rating/commenting of {Content Packs, ZIMs}. While ensuring http://download.kiwix.org/library/library.xml is offered long-term for both kinds of ZIMs (legacy ZIMs, and ZIMs that include the index within the file)
    • Internet-in-a-Box integration of ZIMs that include index (also support legacy ZIMs?)
    • Common standard / alignment with Kolibri channels, w/ LE team (see Kiwix-Kolibri integration)
  • WikiMed app (very high priority, many of us polishing w/ Doc James Heilman)
  • Mark Roden (with Reno McKenzie) ask about:
    • Monthly publication of Wikipedia data aggregation to generate stats, to generate offline connections/collections (stale since June 2016) done
    • FTP server (wp1.kiwix.org) not working: e.g. you can log in but can't do anything else done
  • ZimIT improvements? (very challenging, might require more Python expertise)
  • https://github.com/kiwix/zimfarm and similar Home Server peer community curation action, driven by Internet-in-a-Box regional global leaders
  • Rapid-Deploy Containerization norms & best practices, among our broadening global community
  • Offline Editing using git, WikiFundi & similar with Mark Hershberger, C. Scott Ananian & Michael Graaf
  • Documentation, oral history, and journalism - please be ready to concisely state your contribution to this project. Blue Rasberry (talk)
  • Cue cards or maximum 1 page sheets on how to use or install Kiwix. Also produce a step-by-step "how to" for building Kiwix wifi servers. GastelEtzwane (talk)
  • Kiwix-Kolibri integration - see: KiwixKolibri

Achievements / Impact


This event is being organized entirely by volunteers, who began investing heavily in Potsdam, NY starting February 2017.

However there will be some small costs for transportation, food and accommodations.

SUNY Potsdam's facilities are fundamentally making this all possible.

Please contact holt @ laptop.org for more details!